Ways to organise references
I'm actively looking for better tools to use to organise my reading. I'm trying to solve three problems:
- Too often I remember reading something somewhere but can't find the reference to go back to that paper.
- Compiling the bibliography for a paper is laborious, and it seems to me that there ought to be a way of automatic all that categorising of information into 'author', 'title', 'date', etc.
- I'm really bad at keeping track of papers I haven't yet read but am interested to sooner or later.
Following Erin's example, I started a wiki. This is a nice concept for discussing ideas, and if I were to use it properly it would solve problems #1 and #3. The trouble is that I am lazy, and it doesn't automate #2, so it's not as extremely easy as I would like to add a reference.
Today I've started using CiteULike, which is an online service specifically designed for this purpose. It solves problem #2 admirably for a sizeable subset of papers, because if the article is from one of the sources in the list on this page, all you have to do is go from the article's abstract/details page to the post bookmark and it fetches the bibliographic data for you. For those sources it doesn't cover, there's a form to manually enter all the data, which is still marginally more convenient than writing it out longhand, and at least standardises the format.
For problem #3, CiteULike allows me to categorise a paper as either one that I've already read or with a relative priority. For problem #1, there is the ability to file papers under custom tags (just like del.icio.us, which may be familiar to more people), and to add a public or private comment to each citation, so I can remind myself of why I thought paper X was interesting. I wish it would automatically fetch the abstract, but it's little hassle to paste that in.
So this post is partly a plug for a service that I'm impressed with so far, with the caveat that I only started using it today, but I'm also interested in feedback: does anyone else use services for these goals that you think I should look at?
Oh, and my CiteULike library is browsable - I use the username I almost always use: eldan.